Op-Eds

In-depth features and interviews, and photo essays   
  1. These island dwellers know what it is to exist under constant threat. In Indonesia, hundreds of thousands of people live in the looming shadow of volcanoes that could erupt at any time. There are no fewer than 130 active volcanoes across the Southeast Asian archipelago – more than in any other country on Earth – and despite having endured the most deadly eruptions since Vesuvius levelled Pompeii, in AD79, many communities in Indonesia live nearby the sources of their possible destruction: for…
  2. Last November, in the dead of night, dozens of paint-wielding students descended into a concrete tunnel. They were decked out all in black, faces hidden behind surgical masks. Everyone had been advised to remove any identifying markers, tell a trusted friend where they were headed, and leave their phones behind to avoid being tracked.They scrawled messages such as “Re-education camps are prisons”, “We are all Hongkongers”, and “Save Tibet, our people are burning”. Then, in the red and yellow of…
  3. Small-town boy I was born in a suburb outside Cleveland, Ohio, in 1958. We moved to Rochester, New York, when I was four, and I lived there until the summer of fifth grade. I spent the rest of my childhood in a farm town called Geneseo, south of Rochester. There were about 5,000 people in the town. There were fewer than 100 people in my high school graduating class. Most of them still live in that town. It was a lovely place to grow up.School’s out My mum was a single mum. She got divorced when…
  4. In April, a month after the Indian government ordered the first phase of a countrywide Covid-19 lockdown, an online campaign began to gain steam, a collective vow to buy only swadeshi – home-grown – goods, to help alleviate the economic “agony” caused to local businesses by the pandemic. But more than just buy local, this was a call, specifically, to avoid anything made in China.In one way reminiscent of Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent resistance to the British Raj, where Indians under occupa­tion…
  5. Founded in 1659, isolated mid-ocean 1,930km west of Africa and almost halfway to South America, it is the second-oldest of Britain’s remaining overseas territories after Bermuda. With a population of a mere 4,415, St Helena is just 10km across at its widest point, and about 50 per cent larger than Hong Kong Island, which was annexed by the British almost two centuries later.On this tiny, sheer-sided volcanic mass the roads are mostly too steep, narrow and winding for regular transport routes…
  6. Nirmal Purja is someone who responds to a crisis by becoming completely calm. When the Nepalese mountaineer saw the line of about 100 people waiting to reach the crest of Everest on May 22 last year, he knew there was no way he could overtake the slower climbers. Mentally, he abandoned the record he was attempting, for the fastest climb between the neighbouring peaks of Lhotse and Everest. Poor weather at the start of the climbing season had meant there was only a small window of time in which…
  7. When Chung Man-lurk, popularly known as James, arrived in Hong Kong from China, in 1947, he would stare wide-eyed, puffing on a cigarette, at the tireless comings and goings of the British colony.Every morning, from his home in Wan Chai, he could hear the distant cries of people haggling in the markets. Outside, peddlers in button-down shirts hurried by, carrying food in baskets swinging from both ends of their shoulder poles. Occasionally, a debonair young man would walk past, turning heads in…
  8. There and back again: I was born in Plymouth, in the south of England, in 1955. My father was a primary-school teacher. He was in the air force during the war – as ground crew – and ran an air cadet organisation. From the age of five, I used to tag along and knew I wanted to be a pilot.When I was 10, we emigrated to Sydney, Australia, under the £10 migrant scheme. It was a five-week journey by sea through the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal, stopping in Sri Lanka. My father was appalled by the…
  9. As the sun goes down and interminable night engulfs the South Pole, the summer team of scientists at the Polaris VI Antarctic Research Station hand the keys to the skeleton winter crew of 10, who have signed up to keep the facility operational for the next six months. Three weeks before the “winterers” are due to be relieved, however, all contact with the installation ceases.When the summer scientists finally return, evidence of ghastly goings-on emerges: the station is in darkness, blood…
  10. Standing on the corner of Bayard and Mulberry streets in New York’s Chinatown on March 8, Nancy Yao Maasbach, president of the Museum of Chinese in America, and Yue Ma, Moca’s director of collections and research, are dressed head to toe in white Tyvek hazmat suits, with N95 masks covering their faces. Ma and Yao Maasbach are protecting themselves from mould, asbestos and other toxins that could have been released by the massive fire that consumed the 19th century former public school housing…